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- Relive the antics of the Desperate Romantics with a copy of the original book by Franny Moyle.
Desperate Romantics [DVD] 
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Among the alleys, galleries and flesh-houses of 19th-century London, a group of young artists crash through Victorian society. Calling themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, they might present a real threat to the art establishment – if lust, poverty, jealousy and rivalry don’t tear them apart first…
They are three talented and good-looking young bucks, thrill-seeking and on-the-make, on the grubby streets of London. But these are no punk rockers, this is 1851 and these lads-- Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Millais – are among Britain’s most celebrated artists.
Styling themselves as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, they declare their irreverent genius to the artistic establishment as frequently and as loudly as they can. Unfortunately for them, only one man seems to be listening: Fred Walters, a shy hanger-on who ingratiates himself with them by locating the “perfect model” – flame-haired Lizzie Siddal, a hat-shop assistant.
Young, naive and high on laudanum, the Brotherhood manage to affront polite society with their lewd behaviour, but can they produce the work that will exemplify their revolutionary stance? And, as they encounter success, failure, love and rejection, can they overcome their own personal doubts and demons?
- AN INTERVIEW WITH FRANNY MOYL
- DESPERATE ROMANTICS - A PORTRAIT: A Behind the scenes featurette
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Top Customer Reviews
Full marks to the actors, the director, the costume designers and the cinematography in this marvelous production. Would loved to have seen a sequel but this is satisfyingly self-contained if that doesn't materialise.
Having watched and enjoyed the TV series I have been waiting for a repeat, but as none has appeared I bought the DVD instead. Have watched it several times and always something new to find. The artists' models come alive on screen too, as they are also known and remembered from that time.
My only reason for holding back on the fifth star is that there wasn't enough of the paintings, which is why their group is so well remembered and admired.
Living abroad, I missed the TV showing of "Desperate Romantics", but jumped on the DVD as soon as it came out. My first reaction was: "No! This is not they!" Rossetti all too often often comes across as a shallow cad, which he probably was. However, the final shot takes liberties, even with this libertine. We see him gambolling across the grass with his book of poems under his arm, having exhumed them from wife Lizzy's grave. What we are not told in the film is that he then suffered extreme guilt, which probably contributed ultimately to his substance abuse and mental breakdown. We are left at the end of the series with the feeling that he got away with living fast and loose. As far as the other characters go, Hunt's religious fervour is beautifully portrayed, and Ruskin is just how I imagine him to have been, intellectual, dignified, but lacking in masculinity. Millais comes across as priggish and boring, where he was arguably the most brilliant of the painters in question. But who the heck is Fred? It jars to have an omniscient narrator commenting on these larger-than-life figures, especially as he never existed. The women, without exception, are beautifully chosen, and, to use the Preraphaelite term, stunners.
My opinion: Once past the first episode, I suspended my disbelief, and became, yes, hooked. The whole thing is a romp, raunchy, sexy, modern, fun. The opening titles and the introductory music are superb, and there is definitely enough truth in the storyline to present a fascinating picture of these incredible men (and women). Watch it!
Rossetti, Hunt and Millais were the main members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as shown here, but there were others. Combining fact with fiction and adding some humour this series will hopefully make people more aware of the art that has been produced in this country over the years and may even encourage people to look deeper into our history.
Today where we see some absolutely bizarre things that are promoted as art it seems funny to us that back in the nineteenth century these artists could cause such a stir in the art world by these paintings, which to us are not shocking or even obscene. What the Brotherhood set out to do was revitilise the Royal Academy and art in this country and in that process they also became superstars.
With brilliant casting and great writing this series is not only highly interesting but also fantastic entertainment. I would recommend this to anyone and also Franny Moyle (an executive producer of this series) has written a great pop art history book that gives a more factual approach to the Brotherhood which makes a great accompaniment.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well acted drama if perhaps a little glossy. Enjoyable. Ralf Spall is tremendous as Holman-Hunt.Published 3 months ago by obol
Have not watched this yet, but being Aidan Turner it is going to be good.Published 4 months ago by Kay Lee
It was a very entertaining series. Thoroughly enjoyable except for a little scratch on one of the discs.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
I was sent a silent copy with Dutch subs titles not made clear when ordered. As I purchased it in uk and am British the product was totally useless and returnedPublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
i watched the original series and bought this so I could watch it again.Published 7 months ago by Norma Gibson